Opening Goliath: Danger and Discovery in Cavingby Cary J. Griffith
Narrow passages, twisting upward or dropping precipitously. Huge vaults filled with fantastic shapes. Tunnels twined in tangled mazes. Over centuries, underground rivers can carve holes and rooms in solid rock; drips of water build walls of stone. Natural caves shape another world beneath our feet. Dangerous and beautiful, these places remain
Narrow passages, twisting upward or dropping precipitously. Huge vaults filled with fantastic shapes. Tunnels twined in tangled mazes. Over centuries, underground rivers can carve holes and rooms in solid rock; drips of water build walls of stone. Natural caves shape another world beneath our feet. Dangerous and beautiful, these places remain unknownuntil someone decides to investigate.
In 2004, businessman and caver John Ackerman drilled an entryway into Goliath Cave, a huge and unexplored complex in the karst region of southeastern Minnesota. Squeezing through tiny openings, scuba diving through silt-filled waters, scaling walls, and traversing crevasses, he and his fellow cavers painstakingly mapped ever-further reaches of the complex in an exploration that continues to this day.
But man-made caves that do not breathe can be even more dangerous than their natural cousins. In St. Paul, also in 2004, five teenagers entered an area where intermittent fires robbed the air of oxygen. Only two emerged alive.
Cary Griffith, author of the acclaimed Lost in the Wild, intertwines these two incidents, showing the dangers experienced by both groupsone highly prepared and experienced and the other tragically ill equipped. With equal parts of suspense and caution, Opening Goliath never leaves readers alone in the dark.
Cary J. Griffith, who specializes in writing about the outdoors, is the author of Lost in the Wild: Danger and Survival in the North Woods.
- Minnesota Historical Society Press
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.80(w) x 8.10(h) x 3.80(d)
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I finished reading Gary Griffith's book, Opening Goliath, Danger and Discovery in Caving during the flights on a recent trip to Atlanta. It is an excellent book and keeps the reader engaged. I enjoyed learning about the excitement of cave exploration and all the different geological formations that may occur under the surface. It was important to note the need to protect and preserve the fragile formations that were discovered in so many areas of the cave. The hazards were also noted, with good examples of why we shouldn't run out and crawl into one of the blocked off caves along the cliffs of South St. Paul. It was disheartening to learn of the young people who perished when they did not heed the warning signs. The cave diving episodes left me on the edge of my seat, as I have Scuba dived in confined spaces of shipwrecks and visited several underwater caverns in Florida. I have always stayed out of the cave portion, as we are cautioned in the diving community to not go into underwater caves without the proper training, equipment and experience. Mr. Griffith conveys why this should be respected when he describes Mr. Ackerman's experience as a newly certified diver who feels he has to go down and check things out underwater himself, in spite of his minimal training and equipment. It was good to learn later in the book that he relied on John Preston, an experienced cave diver, to do the initial underwater pursuit of extensions of the Goliath Cave they were exploring. Gary's book is recommend it as an informative, interesting and exciting story for others to learn about caving in Minnesota and Iowa, including the underwater portions.
Opening Goliath is truly a page turner! It took me all of twenty four hours to devour this book. Although nonfiction, Opening Goliath reads like your favorite novel. His research, reflections and insight into the dangerous world of caving provide a stimulus for the mind and nourishment for the soul that will keep you wanting more!